CLI - Editorial in LXF 151

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CLI - Editorial in LXF 151

Postby Nuke » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:37 pm

I've never understood what exactly are the objections to the command line. It's just telling the PC what to do. Crikey, I started with CP/M, then DOS, and people managed back then.

Anyway, Our Editor is missing a trick when trying to "apologise" to people that Linux has a CLI. Why not just point out that Windows and Mac OS X have CLIs too? And they are used by their power users. Saying "You can use Linux just as you would OS x and Windows [by using a GUI]" implies that those other systems have no CLI.

At work (on XP) for file copying etc I frequently open a terminal, although it is not on the Start menu by default. I am not an IT worker, just an ordinary desktop, and our IT guy does look at it a bit askance (especially as my wallpaper is a shot of the KDE desktop!), but has decided I am harmless.

I only once went into an Apple store. There were demo laptops to play on, and, without a salesman around at that moment, out of interest I managed to bring up a full screen terminal and typed "ls -al". I left it like that. The staff must have blown their gaskets when they saw it later - it was obviously not fitting of the image they were trying to project.
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Postby johnhudson » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:32 pm

I think you answer your own question; like you I started with CP/M - barely touched DOS - and moved on to Linux. Having both a GUI and a CLI was heaven - and still is.

It's up to me to decide which I want to use for what purpose.

However, for a generation that started with a GUI, using a CLI is a foreign country. Their objection is to having to learn a foreign language when they get to that country - so they prefer to go places where everyone speaks their language rather than having to learn a new one.
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Postby Spangwiches » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:48 pm

I agree with what John's said. As someone who didn't grow up with a CLI (unless you count my Commodore 64) I sympathise with the frustration people feel when expected to type in incomprehensible things in order to achieve a (seemingly) trivial task like permanently mounting a filesystem or installing a driver.

It's not that the CLI shouldn't be there, just that ordinary users shouldn't be forced to use it to accomplish one-off and/or simple tasks. Someone typing (to them) gibberish into a command prompt isn't learning anything or experiencing the power it provides, they're just being put off.

I do think there is an important related point though: I don't think the CLI should be hidden away and I do think new users should be guided towards it. There's a perception outside of, and sometimes even amongst, Linux users that the command line is old fashioned and deprecated. And this simply isn't true, it's one of the great strengths of Linux. It's incredibly powerful and is often the best tool for the job.

Linux should never be ashamed of the CLI but... that's a marketing problem. The CLI needs to be presented as the efficient, modern, elegant way to get things done in contrast to primitive box-ticking, button-bashing and scrollbar tugging. Because it is.

But yeah, some people don't care what's the best tool, they just want the easiest tool. And that's fine. Newbie-friendly distros should never require the command line for straightforward or everyday stuff. A big problem there is that it's much easier to tell someone what to type into a console than to tell them which menus and settings to navigate to achieve the same. I guess the solution is to ask them which they'd prefer and, if it's the CLI, explain what each command is doing as well as just telling them what to type.
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Postby systemaddict » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:18 pm

"However, for a generation that started with a GUI, using a CLI is a foreign country."

My first PC ran Windows95 and I've never had a problem with the command line, heck, I've even got a terminal shortcut on the desktop of my iBook.
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Postby nelz » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:21 pm

What you started with is not important, a willingness to learn something else is. If you don't have that, you aren't going to make the transition from Windows to another OS anyway, the use of the command line is just the easiest and most obvious excuse that avoid admitting your own inflexibility.
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